Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Some thoughts on fatherhood

Posted on June 20, 2010 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated June 20, 2010 12:00 AM

Father’s Day has got to be the most confusing day for people like Erap, Ramon Revilla and Dolphy.”

That’s a joke I tend to repeat every year when Father’s Day comes around. I say it in jest, but in all seriousness, I believe that being a father is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. A man may have many talents and achievements that define his stature in society, but to me, being a father stands as tall or even taller than any other measure in defining the character of a man.

Someone once said that it is easier to become a man than to be a man. Fatherhood has the great potential to make one a man. When a young man marries and has a child, things happen in his life that can change him forever. For one, there is now a living person aside from his wife and his siblings that will carry his family name. By virtue of his siring a child, he has started a line that can potentially continue forever. And this business of having a line introduces him to a bit of immortality, knowing that he has extended himself somehow. Becoming a father has a metaphysical, spiritual dimension.

As a father of three (two daughters and a son), the feelings I have about fatherhood are many faceted — and some are unexplainable. When my eldest child was born, I remember staying up late just staring at her and marveling at this gift of a living being that one moment would deprive Lydia and me of sleep, and on the next be so peaceful and beautiful just lying on her crib. Her vulnerability evoked such strong primal feelings in us.

I remember feeling so much tenderness when I held Erica in my arms for the first time. I was afraid I was too clumsy when I carried her and I thought I might hurt her. So I just stood there like a statue. Once she stopped fidgeting, I simply froze, not wanting to disturb her peace.

Children come in different packages. My second child, Ala, was an easy baby. She was not colicky unlike her elder sister. She hardly cried, and she was such a beautiful baby, it was so pleasant taking care of her. With a little prodding, she would coo as if she knew that it was making her more adorable and lovable. I would forget my tiredness and cranky mood when she would do that. Ala was love personified. I was a calmer father with her, perhaps because I already had valuable previous experience.

My third child, Mio, was a boy! Af-ter two girls, I was quite content with the idea of having yet another daughter. So when the doctor told me I had a son, I was stunned. It took a while before the reality of having a baby boy dawned on me and I broke into a wide smile. I had a son! How cool is that! Mio’s coming into the world awakened in me new aspects of fatherhood. I wanted to bond with him in a special way outside of all-family bonding. I looked forward to the day we could go camping, fishing, doing father-son activities together. I had that yearning to be a father to him in a way my own dad was never able to be with me, since he died early in my life.

When Mio was a baby, I liked carrying him around my room because he seemed to get stimulated looking at everything so intently. When he did so, he looked very much like an uncle of mine. He also chuckled the loudest and could be easily provoked to do so.

I can proudly say that I taught all of my three kids to read and do math. I saw in each of them an empty, malleable mind and my aim was to teach them as much of everything that I knew. I wanted them to be curious and develop the habit of learning not just marketable skills, but more importantly, life skills they will need to maneuver through the terrain of disappointments and changes as people perennially engaged with life. Thus, I tried as best as I could to be patient and answer every question they had, no matter how hard or silly or nonsensical, as children can often get.

Perhaps because of the atmosphere Lydia and I created in the home, our kids like to read, converse and express themselves, at times, quite passionately. And for that, we are quite proud of them.

I am a person who values experience more than intellectual knowledge. Some people are content reading about things. I prefer to actually live life. Reflecting on his father, Aldous Huxley wrote that he “considered a walk in the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.” I am that kind of a person. I believe my children are the same.

Like children, fathers come with different temperaments and styles. Early on, I told myself that the last thing I wanted to be was an aloof, unapproachable father who demands that his children behave a certain way because they carry his name. I readily accepted the fact that they are not my possessions but are only entrusted to me to care for and love.

But like any father, I often ask myself if in my parenting style, I have been too lax with rules and too forgiving of their faults. Have I spared them too much of the discipline I received as a boy? There will always be pluses and minuses with regard to how one raises his kids. And being a dad is to have such doubts. We just have to come to terms with the fact that we can only try our best.

We can only love our kids in the best way we know at the time we do. Our behavior is always “the state of the art” of what we are as people at any given time. I have learned to accept this incrementally and each time I do, I somehow become a steadier, more consistent dad. In trying to resolve my doubts, I find I can fit easier into a father’s shoes.

A big discovery for me as a father is constantly learning that as much as I am supposed to raise my kids, I am also being raised by them. I am not talking only of countless hours of helping them with their school work and reading to them at bedtime, but also of the many moments when they have taught me patience, greater understanding, and yes, unconditional love.

When our children do things that disappoint us greatly, we may be prone to anger and shouting — and that is understandable. But after we have calmed down, we awaken to the realization that in spite of what they have done, we still love them, and we always will, and we will still try to be there for them, no matter what. It is a love that opens us up in a scary, reckless way because it demands so much from us.

I am talking about tough love, the love that does not feel good but needs to be dispensed from time to time. But we know it is love, and it can only be good, eventually, even if it does not feel that way, initially.

If we parents learn this, our children will also learn it and hopefully, they will apply it to us when the situation calls for it. I know of people who discovered their father’s improprieties later in their lives, or after their parents have died, and took years recovering from it. As much as their fathers accepted their faults and forgave them when they erred, they never thought they would have to repay it in kind.

Sometimes, I wonder how my children will remember me when I am gone. God knows I am far from perfect. I hope that by the time I die, they would have learned enough about life to be as forgiving and as unconditional of my shortcomings as I am of theirs. I am quite confident that they will. As a blogger, Robert Brault put it, “You will find that if you really try to be a father, your child will meet you halfway.”

* * *

“Tapping the Creative Universe,” a creativity workshop which will make you creative for life, will be held on June 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Please call Ollie at 0916-8554303. Cost: P5,000. Visit http://tappingthecreativeuniverse.com/ for the syllabus and FAQ. Write me at emailjimp@gmail.com for any queries.

5 to “Some thoughts on fatherhood”

  1. Paolo says:

    Thanks for sharing this Sir Jim. You just keep inspiring me. Thank you again.

  2. jassy says:

    happy father’s day po:)

  3. Happy father’s Sir Jim. It’s my first father’s day. :) Will be taking hints from here. he he

  4. Applekey says:

    Hi sir jim! I love this entry. :) I’m picturing you to be one of those kinds children would really love to have as their father. :)

    Anyway, I’m hoping that you’d allow me to re-blog this entry. Please?

    Thank you.



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